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Lockdown in Barcelona – the first 10 days
Day 1 of the unexpected yet beautiful home schooling experiment. We’ve ordered a piano! meant to buy it in Jan, but finally got round to it. Kira has grumpily accepted no tv until the evening. We will walk to pick up some succulent plant cuttings that need someone to help them grow, which will then be planted around the trees in Poble Sec IN SMALL GROUPS, IN FRONT OF YOUR OWN HOUSE. We WILL go for pizza in our local pizza place later. Is that allowed? Is organising the house and cleaning all the dust going to be fun for Kira?
Day 2 Saturday so when the time comes Kira will be allowed to watch tv. But actually the mood at home is wonderful, we are using the roof terrace more than before, I believe Kira has made a house and we’ll have tea there after I’ve done this. I’m in an eye-opening XR online meeting with 100 people, mostly from the UK it’s beautiful and crazy as the brits are trying to develop the concept of community organising and radical care. We are looking at ways to organise a #XRguerrillagardening project within the social distancing measures. So in the second week of being off school we hope to provide materials and support to help gardens pop up around the trees in from of people’s buildings.
On a practical level the latest information is that food shops are open and there’ll be no disruption to food supply, visiting private houses for needed visits is ok. Walking the dog and the children is ok, just go to open spaces and keep a metre away from groups of people. Luckily we live right next to Montjuic. Bars and restaurants, and all public places except food shops, are closed and it is not recommended to go and visit friends, but not banned.
Let’s see how Saturday goes.. Kira wants an ice-cream, that should be possible, and the sun is shining and this slow down is an interesting challenge. Let’s show that with sharing, collaboration and listening we can self-organise.
Day 3 Sunday 15th March. Yesterday afternoon we went to the local supermarkets, and while yes, the “supermarkets” were looking pretty empty, the corner shops had full shelves.. and we do our shopping mostly in small shops anyway. I will check out whether the ecological supermarket, about 1km away, delivers, or maybe try and go there on my bike in the next couple of days. Two weeks without going on my bike?! I’ll get a sore arse when I get back on.
Today we got ready for our last chance to get out and about on the mountain before stricter enforcement from tomorrrow 8am, and slowly during the morning prepared a picnic. As we set off we discovered the gates accessing the gardens closed, and a police car drove past megaphoning “everyone go home”. There are people about on the streets, just less than usual. Actually due to the park being close there were a fair few people on the main road up the hill. One runner had to chose between passing someone at less than one metre, or going into the road towards oncoming traffic to go round them. She went in the road, like a responsable citizen.
So we scuttled around in the bushes for a while, away from the view of the police car (it only came past once) and Kira the explorer successfully found one insect before we went home and had our picnic on the terrace. The afternoon was spent with Papi, ball games on the terrace and making a cake – i popped out to by flour, no problem.
The barrage of whatsapp is one of the worst things. You get stuck in this constant conversation, meme sharing, talking to friends. It’s going to be very important to have screen down time, and just disconnect, for sufficient chunks of the day. I had my moment of anxiety while I was alone on my phone, the mixture of messages from business as usual in UK, to “it will be longer than two weeks”, from “what is happening to the world?” to “shall we organise events in two months or not?”. Should the last thing that happened be scary or reassuring? I have no idea! You want to stop talking about it, but it’s HUGE and it keeps coming back into conversation… it’s interesting that xxxx. But talking about the future of Boodaville helped, there is plenty of useful work that can be done this week with or without lockdown.
We started a list on the wall of all the crap kira eats each day – to make sure it doesn’t get too out of hand! Maybe Bernat should write one too… we have a lot of food in the fridge, it’s supposed to last.
I’m going to find time to read some more pages of “Designing Regenerative Cultures” and send out some more positive messages about mushrooms – ooh and the list of projects next week now includes making a bird feeder, a compost bin (I stuffed kira’s back pack full of leaves, litter and sticks in case we don’t get as far as the trees next time) and starting a garden on the roof with the seeds and compost we have. I think Kira will really enjoy sanding the table as well… right?
Day 4 Monday 16th March. The last thing I did on Sunday night was read the news. A terrible idea which left me distressed at midnight about the risk to my friends and family in the UK as cases increase exponentially and the health system collapses, and more generally about the isolating policies of post-Brexit Britain. The only country in the world acting as they are. And a few big questions, what happens after lockdown? does the virus adapt and become stronger as the Brits allow themselves to catch it? Will they then pass a super COVID19 to other countries in 3 months and regain world domination with their immunity while foreigners die… at this point I decided to try and sleep and made a very good decision to spend Monday phone free.
A day with barely any contact online was perfect. Can I do that every day? There’s enough to manage here with Kira / organising Kira time shares with Bernat while being in the same flat, and running the house. Let alone remembering what I was planning to do this week in my old life, the life I was leading last month.
The builders next door were working, the 55 bus came pas regularly – empty. (It’s one of our games to run to the window and see how many people are on it) The rain made it feel ok to be inside.
So the day was spent deep cleaning the lounge, then lunch and Bernat left to go to the office in the early evening. Perfectly legal. I did my scheduled private maths class online with some added mental gymnastics trying to teach an intense amount of high level material over zoom on my mobile in selfie mode, where the writing on the page comes up backwards! Better online teaching skills are something to develop these weeks. (It didn’t help that I locked myself out of zoom on the laptop 2 mins before class!) Kira watched 1.5 hours of tv during class, of course, that’s part of what’s going on here too.
I’ve been making plans for escaping if necessary.. for example going out in the car for a drive! As far as I see noone stops cars, and being in a private vehicle is entirely non-contagious, and we could just take it a tiny step further to pack up food for a few days and go all the way to Boodaville. If we’re on lockdown much more than two weeks I will have to go and tend to the garden, it IS work!! We could camp out at the land for a couple of nights then come back. Living the dream with all these options.
At 21:15 there was a brief meltdown, you just know if you’d played it better she could be asleep already and in a parallel version of the day you are already having a nice chat and a glass of wine, but we got through it. We MUST get her to bed before 21:00 or there is no time at all for me and Bernat to speak to each other without interruption, and I MUST get 8 hrs sleep a night or I can’t handle this. Is Netflix our friend or not?
Home-schooling today : 7 Rain stopped composting. it wasn’t all scribbling. a very much appreciated little activity by email from Grandma, and maths from the great little maths book from school, some reading, some writing, the kids from class are sharing videos of magic tricks in the whatsapp group.
Home-activism today : 0
Day 5 Tuesday 17th March. Our routine was broken today. With neither of us working a fixed timetable, and the disappearance of the school routine, it took us precisely one day. Kira was watching tv before lunch, and asleep for a siesta at 6pm. Any parent knows that is not ideal. It’s interesting to see how quickly I start losing it without timings – but I’ve been a ruled by the bell secondary school teacher for over 20 years! The timings are as natural to me as my urge to make every experience an educational one for Kira. I was impressed by the “hamsters” she made out of potatoes and cocktail sticks, and less impressed by the enormous amount of scribbling and getting distracted. (I know how that sounds! I recognise relaxing is all good 🙂 I just get excited about encouraging thinking…)
I left the house for a few hours before lunch. I went to my office to work. The police say that’s allowed and my office is now Bernat’s office. I bumped into (by that I mean stood at a distance of 2m from) a neighbour on my way home, he had also been to the office – which was his van parked down the street! (He has a 5yr old and a 9month old)
Connecting with the world in the office wasn’t all I had hoped, it took me hours to trawl through whatsapp, this bombardment of everyone’s ideas, and this cloud whenever I tried to focus on what to do. How are we supposed to know which videos, articles to bother to watch and read? I love a bit of comedy though – keep the hilarious ones coming. Although I notice the crazy home videos dried up a bit today.
Home-schooling : 6 Well it was feeding Kira lunch at 16h and letting her get overtired that wasn’t great. The “schooling”, from 10 – 14:30 and then after a siesta from 18:30 – 20h went pretty well. Lot’s of basketball I believe, we also started a project to make the most incredible shop, where Kira thought of all the most wonderful things in the world to put in her shop then, (ideally wrote them down) and created them (hence hamsters made out of potatoes). The snakes and ladders style board game is great for counting to 100, and we looked at the email reply from Kira’s teacher, which was great.
Home-activism : 4 I started conversations about the home-gardening / guerilla gardening idea, to get families growing gardens… not very productive but a step! I shared a few ideas on facebook.
This is a lovely image to get people thinking. I was surprised that when I shared a jokey post asking if everyone was worried about “THE ECONOMY” people basically replied “yes”. This is what I really wanted to say.
When we think of “THE ECONOMY” we often focus on the tip of the iceberg. In a time of crisis maybe we can make the switch to think about not “THE ECONOMY” but our own economy, and the needs and wants that we would like to fulfil. If there is less money in the economy, but people still fulfil their needs and wants, are we all ok? So instead of thinking about the “MONEY” you need, think about what it is that you need and start looking for alternatives.
I think this is a GREAT moment to start sharing information about the truth of Market economics, and the amazing opportunities from learning and moving OUT of that system (at a communty level).
Day 6 Wednesday 18th March. A good night’s sleep makes all the difference. A tweak to the plan today is that I will go earlier to the office, and get back early so there are enough people in the house to ensure cooking is possible, and lunch is on time. I managed to clear my head – thanks to the scenic route to work, and a stop on the hill with silence and birds singing for twenty minutes. It seems that if you are away from the road where patrol cars can’t see you, staying still outside for a while can be managed. And this break meant doing actual work. There are a few Boodaville projects that are mostly unaffected by the outbreak – small group projects, starting in september, that require no travel, and with careful design can be implented during social distancing, so this seems a good focus. Also the online education. With economic uncertainty I hope there are plenty of young people who would see this EU money as an opportunity, and there is plenty of community work to be done with whatever the world throws at us.
On the way home from the office it seemed eerily normal. About 50% of people in masks, and very few people in pairs.. and I saw a group of three. There are no kids on the street, but the number of people is pretty normal. Much less traffic though, and a weird looking queue for the bakery, down the street with 2m gaps between customers.
Lunch went well, Kira had a great morning out on the terrace. I asked her if she wanted to leave the house, and she said no. Every day I feel so incredibly grateful for the terrace we have access to. In the evening the UK and Uganda announced school closures, because of this, or just by chance, I received three video calls from friends and family. They left me feeling worse than I had all day, and when Bernat and I had time to speak after Kira was asleep, of course you come back around to the uncomfortable conversations about what is happening, and who knows what, and the decisions about how to act, what to do, when we all feel so unsure. These conversations are worse late at night, and in our house we moved on to more trivial things before down time and then bed.
Home-schooling : 8 active morning with Dad, collage making and maths in the afternoon from the school book and some materials Kira’s teacher sent. We didn’t get to the writing activity, but had tea upstairs and made a compost mix in a bucket on the terrace – we put stones in the bottom so it doesn’t get waterlogged, then sticks, raw fruit and veg organic waste, leaf litter collected from the park, and fresh green leaves also from the park. Added enough water to make it all damp and left it in a shady spot. Then Kira helped me clean and dust in the lounge, she enjoyed washing the wall!
Home-activism : 6 I’m trying to provide content not just be bombarded by other people’s 🙂 The Boodaville facebook page will be a post about alternative economics each day for .. about two weeks. I am trying to calmly follow the plan for sharing key resources twice a month on the blog. I attended zero meetings, briefly considered finding out if online training was available to be a nurse as from one side I heard they are desperately short, and made no progress on the guerilla gardening.
Day 7 Thursday 19th March. I was up before Kira, I didn’t set an alarm in case it woke too many people up, but this morning I had quiet time while the family slept which was a gift. A great improvement to three days ago when Kira got out the wrong side of bed and jolted me awake demanding things, screaming and pounding the bed repeatedly. That really is the worst way to start the day, when you’re disturbed from a deep sleep and the absolute last thing you want to do is wake up.
I enjoyed a yoga session, in a new social distancing version of the old life. I remembered most of the moves, but must do it every week or I will forget. Then went out on my normal over the mountain route to the office to enjoy my two hours of work time before lunch. Bernat has been very connected with friends, social media and radio programs in the last twenty-four hours. He wasn’t doing too well this morning and is feeling stress about leaving the house at all, but since we need to buy fruit, I went out anyway. I did wash the door handles at the office with soap, and wipe down the light switches and the outside of the packaged shopping though. I also started leaving my shoes outside the flat, and threw my outer layer straight in the washing when I got home.
By the evening I felt physically tired which was brilliant. We had lunch and the whole afternoon on the terrace, before dinner and a failed attempt at a meeting. As well as the Boodaville EU funded projects we are still working on Maranya Festival and on the Vall Rovira regeneration project. The festival we will try and guess a new date that can work, and the Vall Rovira project starts next year so isn’t affected right now, but obviously all people everywhere are affected by COVID19, and the groups are dispersing. I hope we can pull back together.
I ended the day coughing on the sofa. I think it is undiagnosed mild asthma that I notice from time to time, or is related to the dust-mite allergy I recently tested positive for. But honestly, I very quickly felt the anxiety rising. I was surprised at my body and mind’s reaction. I was concerned that I was at fault for being irresponsible and going out, as well as actually being concerned that I might get sick! But I moved to my bed, lay down, observed the sensations of my body, coughed a little but not much, and rested. I focussed inwards in recognition of the fact that whether this was nothing, or asthma, or the beginning of a virus, the best thing to do was let my body relax, rest my head into the pillow, and either sleep or rest. I slept.
Home-schooling 8 : The morning with Dad, then an afternoon on the terrace, some reading, playing hangman, and the real fun was making our garden. We put all the abandoned house plants up on the terrace, made a big mix of all the soil from the plants – we don’t have enough for when the plants get bigger, which is a good challenge to figure out – and planted seeds in egg boxes. It’s not the normal type of garden; we had pumpkin and I think grape collected from fruit in the kitchen, but mostly there are seeds of drought resistant plants I have collected from three different farms around Catalunya! Most of the things we planted are to be moved to Boodaville. I wonder where we can get some lettuce seeds to add something more normal to the mix
Home-activism 6 : No meetings. One newsletter sent out which is Boodaville rather than the activism I quit my job for. I messaged with one of the partners in our guerilla gardening project, but she is busy looking for a job working on the new phone line for coronavirus – she says she would rather get the virus than starve (her family income, like many in Barcelona, relied on tourism). I remembered that tomorrow is Friday, and changed my cover photo on Facebook. I am consistently using special cover photos on Friday, and using Fridays as the day to talk about ecological collapse and climate breakdown. It’s difficult to know when to talk about it, and sticking to Fridays seems like an idea that can catch on with people and institutions. Obviously there is good news to share this week – now people have temporarily stopped doing so much damage we have clean water in Venice and China, Cleaner air reported in China and New York, lower CO2 emissions because of reduced transport. I wonder how quickly we will see nature, birds, insects and animals regenerate in the natural spaces. Up on Montjuic it feels alive when I go out, that could also be spring? not getting out much? as well as happy human free regeneration.
Day 8 Friday 20th March. We all tried working from home today. Much less work was done! They are digging up the street less than a metre from our front door which doesn’t help that much.
We had lunch on the terrace and Kira shouted across to a family on a neighbouring terrace, there’s another 6 year old girl who was in dance class with Kira last year. We planned how far we could escape from our terrace, and poured some water over the wall to water the neighbours plants.
There was the magnifying glass incident. We have a great idea to make a fire with the magnifying glass (under safe conditions : baking tray and a bucket of water nearby). As we were testing how to do this, Dad made the bright spot shine on Kira’s hand, which burnt her enough to make her jump and get rather upset. The power of the glass….
I did leave the house! The feeling of freedom walking out the door!! I actually attempted to coordinate walking down to the shop to buy cheese with a neighbour. He was working, but soon we may try that and then I get to a real human being outside my family in real life.
We finished the day with cleaning tasks and then pizza and a well-deserved glass of wine and a terrible kids movie in Spanish. I’m not complaining, we are incredibly lucky here, but if we had a fibre internet connection, things would be even better.
Late in the evening we heard that Bernat’s brother has a fever. He was with all the family, all 3 generations, just today.
Home-schooling 8 : maths from the book, and a great activity chalking on the terrace, I asked Kira to divide the rectangles into 8 equal sections and we investigated how many different ways you could do that. Some running around and around, watering the garden. I also have a book “Exploring Nature’s Mystery” by Jon Young, but will need some time to find the activities that inspire 6 year olds.
Home-activism 4 : I managed to share the FB post about alternative economics for today, reach was 116 people. Not high! A person I greatly respected from the permaculture community left one of our groups because he is too busy coordinating 3D printed material to get to hospitals. It made me feel I could maybe do more for the current situation. Maybe.
Day 9 Saturday 21st March. Everyone in our house stayed at home all day today. I wanted to shower, watch a movie called “The Sequel” and read some of my new second hand book “Exploring Natural Mystery” Jon Young. I did none of these things and didn’t get out of my pyjamas. The roadworks in front of the house destroyed the weekend in an apocalypse feeling – they got an amazing amount of work done by working through the entire day.
Bernat’s brother got to 38.2º (the Spanish are very big on measuring) but is bascially ok, and no other family are showing symptoms so far.
In the parallel universe non-coronavirus timeline we are presenting the new regenerative agriculture project in Matarranya today, and to mark this the team made an amazing effort to get on zoom and work together on finishing the presentation – a digital version, to send out and hopefully present via zoom. But trying to move at a pace that suits everyone is challenging, some of the group are more keen than ever that it’s the right path and have more free time now, everyone is up and down feeling the stress of the situation, some people are more busy than others with increased work load and children at home. We all accept what there is and work with our limits.
Kira spoke to a friend via video, Grandma is developing a cool game where she shows part of an object on the screen and Kira has to guess which object it is, and she spoke in real life to the girl in the garden we can see from our terrace. Real life communication with another kid!!
I managed to pull a muscle in my back. At peak times, especially before meals, there is serious tension build up. I let lose and kicked a toy in the corridor as hard as I could – it was an insanely good shot, straight, all the way down the corridor to the end wall. Then noticed damage to my back. -hmph
Day 10 Sunday 22nd March. That’s 10 days on lockdown! If I had to make a guess I suppose there’s about 20 days left. Then maybe something will lighten up?
The aim of today was nothing! No “to do” list, no meetings. It was wonderful. Everyone had a nice day; we had a thanksgiving ceremony for Spring Equinox, made flatbread, watched Planet Earth II. I always think I’ve seen it but then realise there’s bits I missed, like the cat fish preying on pigeons in the Cities episode! We tried to watch online streaming of a circus show – but the quality was a little dodgy. I wonder what we can live stream to entertain people from our own house? I’d love to offer something online, teaching, little maths activities, nature connection stuff. We recorded our little thanksgiving yesterday, which is a beautiful text from a Jon Young book related to indigenous knowledge and ideas of caring for the next seven generations, but I don’t really publish Kira on the internet. Shame, she’d get loads of attention 😉
In the afternoon I got that feeling of depression, being trapped at home, but combated it very easily by running around for a while, stretching, then chatting by phone with other human being that weren’t Bernat or Kira!
In fact today by the evening I turned a corner. I feel like I really understand what the point of the containment is, and where it might end. People who are at risk of serious problems from the virus are in trouble for the long term, until a vaccine or cure, or at least a test for immunity for visitors is found they will have to keep isolated. But I see an end to the social distancing, when there is again capacity in the system we can let the virus get around further. We are not trying to eliminate the virus as that will never happen, but trying to do the best we can and let it spread around in a controlled way. The world is not ending, and may not even be changed that much, although I’m hoping to see a huge increase in social security and a crushing blow to neoliberal capitalism. I will try and do what I can to share and explain Deep Adaptation and Regenerative Cultures as tools to adapt and thrive. I am no longer scared, or unsure. I give myself permission to go on working without constantly “wondering”, especially since my “work” is now 85% Boodaville and related to non-formal, ecological and permaculture education. (and home-schooling for now!)
Day 11 Monday 23rd March. Rain. This is as much of an adventure as we can have under lockdown- both me and Kira outside in the pouring rain rescuing the seed trays which have been engulfed by a big puddle on the terrace. I knew this would happen if it rained… I just didn’t think it would rain! I spent time with wet feet keeping the drains unblocked to try and reduce puddles. I am learning a lot about our building!
Kira (6) is sucking on her comfort blanket again. She gave it up a few months ago, but well, times are strange. It wasn’t easy to motivate her off the sofa but I let Bernat get on with it while I had my “office time” in the morning. I’m focussing on the to do list for a few hours each day. EU projects, reading and preparing teaching materials about regenerative cultures (these don’t exist yet, they are still on the list).
By lunch the rain had stopped and we ate upstairs before I agreed with Kira to take on my role as “teacher” for the afternoon. It takes a lot of effort to get Kira to read a page, and write something each day, but we got there. I know in the advanced home-schooling I should integrate the reading and writing into other activities, but at the moment I’m still using the teacher’s name Cesca to try and encourage Kira to do it as she used to in the classroom.
Noone left the house today. We ran out of oat milk.
I had the hardest private class I have ever done in my life this afternoon. Zoom didn’t send me the reset password email so I couldn’t get in on the laptop. The internet at my bedroom table wasn’t good enough so I was sitting on a stool in the kitchen on my mobile. My phone battery started running out and I couldn’t find the cable. I could hear Bernat on a call next door, and the connection for my class still wasn’t quite good enough. On top of this the student hates Maths and appears to hate the class and I had no material to help and was teaching one of the trickier topics on the course, that I haven’t taught for many many years. In the end I finished the class 10 mins early so I could get some headspace to prepare explanations to some of the questions, and then sent a video after the class explaining them. Wow. but very good mental gymnastics, quite an incredible level of challenge for a day stuck at home.
Home-schooling 6: We managed to write a list, and make a little video of Kira reading it, and send it to Kira’s teacher! I discussed the word social with Kira, and we are now using the better term physical distancing – although she’s not sold on the idea of making a hilarious video about it. She watched two hours of tv while I did my online class hmmm. Piano playing went well, we put stickers on the keys, and have some songs written using letters for her to try (slowly) by herself. Kira can now play with one finger the first two lines of three blind mice on the piano. and sing at the same time. so proud we are. And yes– a brilliant game: I made her walk across both sofas taking exactly the number of steps I said. So when I said 17 steps she had to arrive to the end of both sofas on exactly 17. This could be adapted down the corridor maybe. A great maths activity if you then ask them to try and take equal steps and arrive on different numbers. I mean this activity, like all of them really, only lasts a few minutes.
home-activism 2 : Sharing the odd thing. Not reaching that many people!
Day 15 – Family hospitalisations, drama and cabin fever
Day 16/17 online pub quiz, british media, digital detox, coronavirus test on brother in law doesn’t give the correct result.
Day 18. Lockdown is now normal / meeting a friend / dance party
Day 19 Bernat’s brother tests positive for COVID-19 / rain
Day 20 – Boredom hits hard
Day 21 Desperation, seeds, immunity passports?
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